Blog: Five minutes with Jane Edwards

21

Aug 2013

Five minutes with Jane Edwards

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Dressage aficionado Jane Edwards joined VentureCo and the British Horse Society (BHS) on the Trail of the Incas ride in 2012. Here she shares her philosophy of horses, riders and The High Andes:

Jane-e-stables

Can you tell us a bit about your working life in the Surrey countryside?

I am a BHSII (registered) instructor, and run a small friendly training establishment on the Surrey/Sussex border called Fernhill Riding. I specialise in training the rider to improve their skills in feel, balance and harmony. This not only furthers the training of themselves and their mounts, but also ensures horse welfare and promotes longevity in their ridden careers. Fernhill Riding has a good base of well-schooled horses to use for instruction as well as catering for those with their own horses. All training here is in the form of private sessions to encourage steady progress in a relaxed environment.

How did you first get in to dressage?

Even way back as a child I have always competed in Prix Caprilli, Dressage, Cross Country and Show Jumping.  In my 20s I took up Endurance Racing and became successful both nationally and internationally as well as becoming a member of the British Team.  During my 20 or so years in Endurance competing I trained and rode five different horses to the advanced level of 100 mile/160 km races.

Fernhill then became so successful I found I had too little time to train horses to that high level of fitness.  I then decided to retire from Endurance and follow my first passion of Dressage.

What appealed to you about joining the BHS Peru ride?

Firstly, my Father and I had always wanted to visit Peru and particularly Machu Picchu.  But, sadly he never got the chance to go before he died.  So I felt I was not only going for myself but for him too.

Secondly, as a personal challenge!  I suffer from a fear of heights  resulting in severe panic attacks.

Thirdly, what a fabulous way of seeing the vast openness of Peru’s landscape, meeting local people in remote villages, seeing no tourists for days, and all from the back of a trustworthy pony amongst like-minded people.

Horse-riding-peru

The horses in Peru are derived from original stock brought over by the Spanish conquistadors hundreds of years ago. These days they’re a lot smaller than their forebears; how do they compare to the horses you usually ride?

I had two ponies during the trek.  The first was 14hh approx and a type similar to our New Forest.  He sadly became lame on the first day so they swapped me onto a wranglers pony who was 12hh and a similar type to a welsh mountain.  What a tough but sweet pony he was.  Luckily I am only 5’2″!  The others had small horses which obviously had Spanish influence in their blood lines.

My horses at home could not be more different.  I compete on a 16hh Hanoverian mare, 17.1hh Oldenburg gelding and a 15hh Weltmeyer gelding – all warmbloods

 

Horse-riding-peru-2

 

 

I’ve heard that in the Peruvian High Andes llamas are more commonly seen as beasts-of-burden than horses. How do llamas and horses get along with each other?

I did not see any llamas used as beasts-of-burden,  I saw plenty of pack animals but only made up of mules and ponies.  The Llama we saw were all free roaming everywhere around us.

holiday-in-peru-lama

When mere mortals watch Grand Prix dressage riders it’s often impossible to see what instructions the rider is giving to the horse. Is it possible to compare riding styles in the UK and Peru?

Of course there are good and bad riding skills in every country.  I am used to precision riding with invisible aids while staying in complete balance with the horse in motion.  My horses are my pets.  The Peru horses and ponies we had were tough in order to cope with the terrain, climate and altitude, and are used only as work horses doing their job with little human affection offered to them.  Unlike our rather spoilt domesticated horses in the UK – a completely different way of life.

This trail ride goes higher than 4,000m; how do the horses cope with being ridden at such high altitude? How do riders cope?!

We climbed to 4,700mtrs, and the horses coped incredibly well.  These types of horses were chosen for this specific job.  The beautiful Paso horses are much larger, but would not have been able to cope with the terrain, cold and altitude. Ours were sure-footed and methodical.  The larger horses had to stop more often to get their breathing regular, but my smaller pony although very slow just never stopped.   He never faltered on the ascents, coped with my manic panic attacks, and knew where the invisible bogs coming off the mountains were (unlike the larger horses).

Six out of the 10 riders had some sort of altitude sickness of varying degrees.  I personally didn’t have a problem other than a few headaches, and found I could still run although not for very long!

holiday-in-peru-local-kids

Your next trip with VentureCo couldn’t be more different from riding along mountain trails: visiting the Amazon jungle and the magical Galapagos Islands, with a few traditional markets and the newly-restored “Devil’s Nose” railway journey in between. It sounds amazing. How did you develop such a unique itinerary?

I am so looking forward to my Ecuador trip having had the taste of Peru life.  The Galapagos has been on my ‘bucket’ list, and I am fortunate to be going with an old school friend who had the same list.  Having decided to go we researched Ecuador on the internet to see if we could optimise our time over there.  Together with ‘Google’ and the fantastic Paulina (VentureCo Ecuador), we have sorted an action packed itinerary for 19 days.

Is there any one thing in particular that you‘re looking forward to in the Amazon?

I think the Amazon Jungle experience is what I am looking forward to most.  Absorbing the atmosphere, breathing the smells, hearing the noises of wildlife, exploring by foot and canoe, bird watching, and hopefully animal and river life in abundance.

 

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